Video On Demand Smackdown

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There has been a lot of talk lately about Internet Video on Demand services. Everybody seems to talk the most about Netflix. But is Netflix really the best? What about Hulu? And let’s not forget Amazon, which has been making a big push lately in this space.What if you were to cancel your Cable/Satellite subscription today? Could you still watch all your favorite shows? And what about today’s popular movies? Can you skip the video rental stores and services and just watch all your favorite movies online? I wanted to answer these questions, so I did a little comparison.The table is below, but first here are some notes about this data:

  • I used Nielsen ratings from last week to pick the top 5 most popular TV Shows from the two categories (Broadcast and Cable). I ignored news shows and one time TV events.
  • I used the top box office numbers for the last year to pick the movies. Of course, I only chose movies that aren’t still in the theater.
  • A lot of the TV shows are available on their publisher’s website.
  • A lot of these movies are available to own, but I was only interested in rentals.
  • For Netflix, I only looked at instant streaming, not DVDs.
  • I only looked at services available in the U.S. I don’t have access to services available in other countries.

Broadcast TV

America’s Got Talent
Big Brother

So You Think You Can Dance
Cable TV

True Blood (HBO)

Royal Pains
Burn Notice
Covert Affairs

Toy Story 3x

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Iron Man 2x

Alice in Wonderland (2010)x


Despicable Me

Shrek Forever After

How to Train Your Dragon


What I LearnedThis was a very interesting study. Here are some things I learned:

  1. If you want to watch TV shows, Netflix is not your best bet. Hulu and Amazon have a pretty full catalog of current TV shows.
  2. If you want to watch recent Movies, Netflix seems to have the most available, but even they don’t have many. The movie studios still seem to be holding onto their content to sell in DVD/Blu-ray format.
  3. Many TV shows and Movies just are NOT legally available to stream online.

I really hope things change in the near future. I personally love the convenience of instantly streaming TV shows and movies. More and more Americans are buying Internet connected home entertainment devices that come with Netflix/Hulu/Amazon (and others) pre-installed. And people seem to be interested in having a wide catalog of shows to watch instantly. But for now, Hollywood is still behind the times.